By Alan Silverleib, CNN Congressional Producer
Washington (CNN) - Partisan tempers flared at a Senate immigration hearing on Monday as top Democrats accused opponents of comprehensive reform legislation of using last week's Boston Marathon bombings to slow or even derail the bill.
"Last week, opponents of comprehensive immigration reform began to exploit the Boston marathon bombing," said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont.
"I urge restraint in that regard. ... Let no one be so cruel as to try to use the heinous attacks of these two young men last week to derail the dreams and futures of millions of hard-working people," Leahy added.
He said the bill crafted by the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" would "serve to strengthen our national security by allowing us to focus our border security and enforcement efforts against those who would do us harm."
"A nation as strong as ours can welcome the oppressed and persecuted without making compromises in our security," he said. "We are capable of vigilance in our pursuit of these values, and we have seen the tremendous work that the local law enforcement as well as the federal law enforcement have done in the Boston area, and I am so proud of them."
By Halimah Abdullah, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Opponents of a bipartisan Senate effort to reform the nation's immigration policies calculate that dragging out debate by offering so-called "poison pill" amendments designed to tank support and stoking conservative ire on the airwaves will derail the proposal.
It is a strategy that stymied the immigration overhaul efforts of 2007.
Legislative aides and the bill's supporters worry that with days running out in the congressional calendar and a heavy plate of issues before lawmakers, efforts to overhaul the nation's immigration system could get sidelined.
The so-called "Gang of Eight" senators who have labored for months, largely in secret, are expected to discuss their proposal at a press conference on Thursday.
But the pushback has already begun.
"It seems pretty clear that they are pursuing a strategy of trying to draw this out as long as possible because this bill has to get done as quickly as possible," said Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Center for Community Change, which advocates for low-income communities.
"It's a ploy to try and throw sand in the gears and I suspect there will be a long list of poison pill amendments that will be offered through committee," Bhargava said.
(CNN) - A bipartisan group of senators formally filed legislation early Wednesday calling for border security as the cornerstone of immigration reform. The bill also would prevent undocumented immigrants from reaching full legal resident status until after the government takes steps to keep unauthorized workers from getting jobs in the United States. Read the bill.
Editor's note: Angela M. Kelley is vice president for immigration policy and advocacy at the Center for American Progress, a progressive research and policy institute.
(CNN) - Working diligently for over four months, a bipartisan group of senators - the so-called Gang of Eight – has accomplished a remarkable feat: They have produced an immigration bill that is pragmatic, creative and forward looking. The bill, introduced early Wednesday, is - like any big piece of legislation - a compromise.
Stakeholders will find parts they love and parts they loathe.
First, the parts to love: The senators have largely navigated a dizzyingly complex arena - U.S. immigration policy - in ways that while not perfect, would substantially improve the dysfunctional status quo.
Among other things, the bill would bring the nation's 11.1 million undocumented immigrants out of the shadows and put them on a road to citizenship. It would increase and streamline border security, mandate a national employment verification system and eliminate the visa backlogs that have caused decades-long family separations. And it would promote economic competitiveness by revamping employment-based immigration so that business can bring in needed workers while still protecting the wages and jobs of American workers.
It is a remarkable starting point but with several crucial missed opportunities.
By Ben Brumfield, CNN
(CNN) - The border with Mexico must be secure.
This requirement is the cornerstone of an immigration reform bill a bipartisan group of senators are to file on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. There will be no path to legal residency for migrants without it.
Undocumented immigrants may also not reach the status of fully legal residents under the proposed legislation, until the Department of Homeland Security has implemented measures to prevent "unauthorized workers from obtaining employment in the United States."
The bill drafted by the "Gang of Eight" senators stipulates that the security of "high risk border sectors along the Southern border" must be verified, before most undocumented immigrants can access pathways to legal residency laid out in the proposed legislation.
The bill makes exceptions for those eligible for the DREAM Act, law-abiding immigrants who arrived in the United States as minors and completed high school in the country. It also includes allowances for certain agricultural laborers.
Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter: @rubennavarrette.
By Ruben Navarrette, CNN Contributor
San Diego (CNN) - Every gang needs a leader. And what has become undeniably clear in recent days is that the de facto leader of the Gang of Eight is Marco Rubio.
The Florida lawmaker, and potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, appeared on seven Sunday talk shows, discussing - in English and Spanish - the specifics of a comprehensive immigration reform bill that he hammered out with three other Senate Republicans and four Senate Democrats. The legislation is expected to be formally unveiled on Tuesday.
This means that, by Wednesday, just about everyone will be angry. Conservatives will declare the provisions of the bill too lenient, while Hispanics will condemn them as too punitive. Welcome to the immigration debate.
By Sudip Bhattacharya, CNN
Washington (CNN) - It should have been a happy day for Raymond Jose: He had been accepted to college, with scholarships to help pay for it.
But when he told his parents, his mother started to cry.
"I was puzzled why she was crying after hearing such great news," said Jose, who was to attend Montgomery College in Maryland. "That was when she started to explain to me we were undocumented, that we had overstayed our tourist visas."
Jose's family had come to the United States from the Philippines in 2000, when Jose was 9. They first lived in the Tampa Bay, Florida, area but moved four years later to Maryland.
Jose had been assimilated into American life and culture and didn't know that he was undocumented until that day. When he found out, he was heartbroken. His undocumented status prevented him from using scholarship money to help pay for school.
Every day after that, it was really hard to get out of bed," Jose said.
The debate over immigration reform has been focused on border security and immigrants from Latin America.
But the Asian population in the U.S. grew by more than 40% between 2000 and 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The number of those identifying themselves as Asians, either alone or in combination with another racial group, grew from 11.9 million to 17.3 million.
U.S. settles case in immigration raids, must follow new guidelines
Of the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., 1.3 million are from Asia, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
Washington (CNN) - Last November, Hispanic voters planted the seeds for serious immigration reform when they backed President Barack Obama by a record margin.
This April, we'll see if those seeds can grow in Capitol Hill's toxic partisan soil.
Congress returns from spring break Monday, and immigration reform tops the agenda. The Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Eight" is preparing to release its long-awaited plan for resolving the status of 11 million undocumented men, women, and children now living in America's shadows.
Can a unique confluence of factors - a Democratic president trying to build his legacy, a Republican Party grappling with new demographic realities - overcome the usual strong bias for inaction in a sharply divided Congress? The answer remains unclear.
By Alexander Mooney, CNN White House Producer
(CNN) – Seeking to ignite congressional movement on immigration reform, President Obama said Monday he expects the Senate to take significant action on the issue next month.
"I expect a bill to be put forward. I expect the debate to begin next month. I want to sign that bill into law as soon as possible," Obama said at a naturalization ceremony at the White House.
"We are making progress, but we've got to finish the job," Obama said.
(CNN) - CNN's Miguel Marquez says immigrants hope the next pope will focus on issues like human rights and economic justice.
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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